Two caught with suspected heroin at South Strabane motel

May 1, 2014
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Dashawn Whitaker
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Marcus Lovell

Acting on a tip, South Strabane Township police served a search warrant early Thursday on a room at Motel 6 and confiscated 132 stamp bags of suspected heroin, two iPhones and more than $800 cash, and arrested two men.

Marcus B. Lovell, 31, of Tobyhanna, Monroe County, was charged with possession and possession with intent to deliver heroin, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a small amount of marijuana. Dashawn Ellis Whitaker, 19, of 610 Addison St., Washington, was taken into custody on an outstanding warrant obtained by Washington police in connection with a burglary and assault last summer. Drug charges will be filed against him in the next few days, said township Sgt. Michael Manfredi.

On Wednesday, Manfredi received information from two sources that suspected heroin dealers from the New York area were staying in a room at the motel. Police began surveillance and saw people entering the room, which was rented by Lovell. Police said they went to the door of the room, where they could hear voices and smell the odor of burnt marijuana. A warrant to search the room was obtained from District Judge Joshua Kanalis. Police executed the warrant about 8:15 a.m. and said they found Lovell and Whitaker inside, along with the suspected heroin, cash and cellphones.

Lovell told District Judge Jay Weller during his arraignment that he had been in the Washington area for about three weeks and was here to make a music video. Lovell said he was here to meet new talent and try to get a job.

When asked if he was on probation, Lovell told Weller he was, for a criminal mischief charge in Reading. He also told Weller he has past arrests on cocaine and marijuana charges.

Manfredi asked Weller to consider Lovell’s previous felony drug convictions, as well as the fact that he is not from the area and is jobless, in setting bond. Weller remanded Lovell to Washington County jail on $50,000 bond. A preliminary hearing is set for May 13.

Lovell repeatedly denied ownership of the drugs found in the motel room and broke into tears in the courtroom upon learning he was headed to jail.

Whitaker was arraigned Thursday morning before District Judge Robert Redlinger on charges of burglary, aggravated assault and conspiracy. He and two other men are accused of forcing their way into the apartment of Vidal Alvarez Herrera at 660 Addison St., pistol-whipping Herrera and punching him. Whitaker was jailed on $30,000 bond. A preliminary hearing on those charges is set for May 12 before Redlinger.

Kathie O. Warco has covered the police beat and transportation for the Observer-Reporter for more than 25 years. She graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in journalism.

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